By Peter Wells
KEVIN MITCHELL SETS UP WORLD TITLE SHOT
Clutch performances are talked about in all sports, but rarely is the word used in the art of boxing. But last night Kevin Mitchell was clutch, producing a punch perfect performance in the most important fight of his career since losing to Ricky Burns for the WBO Lightweight title.
Mitchell forced an 8th round stoppage of recent world title challenger Daniel Estrada in a final eliminator for the WBC Lightweight strap owned by Jorge Linares.
Mitchell dominated Estrada in a fashion that even former world title holder Omar Figueroa couldn’t manage, although he also produced a stoppage in a much tougher contest. While Figueroa’s style suited Estrada, Mitchell’s game plan was set to neutralise everything that Estrada did well, and it didn’t fail.
From the opening bell the tone was set as Mitchell connected with single left hands that Estrada was already struggling to contain. The expectation was that Estrada, trained by Nacho Beristein, would adapt, but he would be unable to do so.
Mitchell’s foot work was spot on as he glided in and out of range, leaving Estrada, with the longer arms, unable to make any dent on the home fighter.
A right hand over the top sent Estrada down as he stood square during an exchange, the knockdown was legit and Mitchell carried on pushing as Estrada only became more ragged as the round progressed. Mitchell was warned however midway through the 3rd when Estrada landed a wild left hook that momentarily staggered Mitchell.
Estrada continued to look ordinary, while Mitchell peppered him with whatever he liked, especially the left hook that was beginning to leave its mark under and around the right eye of Estrada.
Without using much energy, Mitchell’s concentration remained unfazed as Estrada offered nothing to alter Mitchell’s job at hand. If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it, and Mitchell preached exactly that as he refused to go away from what was working so well through the opening half of the fight.
Mitchell upped the tempo to end the 7th round, clearly sensing that he could be on the way to a stoppage over the proud Mexican fighter.
That stoppage would come in the next round as Mitchell zeroed in when catching Estrada flush. Mitchell barely missed as Ian John Lewis took a close look at the visitor. The importance of the contest was taken into account but very few can blame Lewis for stepping in when he did as another solid left uppercut bounced off the chin of Estrada. This time Lewis had seen enough, and there didn’t seem to much complaint from the Estrada corner.
Mitchell has seen many critical fights and the next one could be the most critical of them all, as a shot at Linares could be a final world title challenge for the likeable Londoner.
On the undercard there were two fascinating Super Lightweight contests as John Wayne Hibbert forced an 8th round stoppage of the extremely brave Tyler Goodjohn.
Tommy Martin also continued to shine when dominating Ricky Boylan over 10 rounds. A match-up between Hibbert and Martin could well be on the cards for later this year.
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